"Usually it is the kiss of death," said a smiling Flint, sitting at a restaurant in northern Virginia yesterday during the annual CAA media day. "We knew we would be picked pretty high. We have a lot of guys coming back."
Flint loves to play the underdog role, which VCU head coach Shaka Smart pointed out.
"I did not think we would be picked No. 1. I thought we would be picked in the top three," Flint said.
"If anyone doesn't pick Drexel, they are crazy," Smart, who led his team to its surprising Final Four run, said. "They have set themselves up for a special season. They have very high-level players."
Drexel is followed by the five Virginia league schools in the top six: George Mason, VCU, Old Dominion, James Madison and William & Mary.
The bottom six in the poll are Delaware, Hofstra, Northeastern, UNC-Wilmington, Georgia State and Towson.
Drexel senior forward Samme Givens was a first-team all-league pick.
"He was the only person to average a double-double in the conference last year," Flint said of Givens, who averaged 12.2 points and 10.1 rebounds. "I would say he has a chance to be player-of-the-year. Givens is such a great rebounder. He is our only senior this year. Hopefully we can win the league championship and get to the NCAA Tournament before his career is over."
Junior guard Chris Fouch was a second-team pick. Flint pointed out that Fouch is still recovering from knee surgery but should be ready for the "start of league play," which is Dec. 3 at Delaware. Fouch averaged a team-high 14.9 points last season even though he started just two of 31 games.
Last year the Dragons were 21-10, 11-7 in the CAA. They nearly beat VCU in the CAA Tournament; a loss in that game may have cost the Rams their at-large bid to the NCAA field.
"We had three close games against [VCU] last year," Flint said. "We knew they were a good team."
Drexel lost to VCU 52-48 in regular-season play and 62-60 in the tourney quarterfinals, but defeated the Rams 64-60 late in the regular season with Givens scoring 18.
"When they made that [tournament] run, it did not surprise me," Flint said. "You can almost touch [Final Four dreams] yourself since we have played those guys.
"The two teams [Mason and VCU] that went to the Final Four did not even win the regular-season title. This league has changed tremendously since I have been here."
Drexel women in fifth
Drexel's women, who were 19-13 last season, were picked to finish in a tie for fifth with Old Dominion. The top four teams were Delaware, VCU, James Madison and Hofstra.
"I fiigured we would be in the top five or six," said Drexel head coach Denise Dillon, getting ready for her ninth season. "As a coach you have high expectations. We have a strong, veteran group. Our seniors were freshman when we won the [2009 CAA] championship. They want to go out as the best."
Senior forward Kamile Nacickaite was named to the first-team pre-season team. From basketball-crazy Lithuania, she led the Dragons in seven categories last year and averaged 17.6 points.